Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wed. Devo - Send us to the Plain of Tabor

Read 1 Sam 10:3-16
Saul has just been anointed king, been given a word of knowlege about his donkeys, and then sent to the plain of Tabor (brokeness). Isn' t that the way it goes; we get a commission from God and immediately God breaks us. He even sends 3 men to him carrying bread, lambs, and wine and what do they give him? Bread that must be "broken" to eat. After "breaking" he is sent to the place where the enemy is, to receive the spirit of prophesy and the birthing of a new man. Then he is to go to Gilgal and wait 7 days for Samuel to come and offer burnt offerings and peace offerings. (Did Saul's poor dad ever know that he was OK?) Ever notice how God doesn't seem to worry about the practical things we worry about?
I love vs. 9: As soon as Saul turned to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart and all those signs came to pass that day.
When Saul started prophesying everyone wants to give Saul a title and a ministry. Good intentions - wrong calling. Even his uncle tries to get the scoop but Saul is holding out for the right timing.
2009 is going to be a time of great harvest. God is calling us to a new "thing" and we will need "another heart" for it. We need to be broken so we can hear and discern the voice of God. The temptation will be to take the title and the ministry that is not the right one. Satan is always in a hurry because his time is short. God is always patient because He has eternity. When in doubt; wait on God. He will make it obvious. He will put road signs in the road like he did for Saul.
Lord , break us for the work you have ahead.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tues. Devo -Hidden in Clear Sight

Read 1 Sam 10:1-2
At the end of chapter 9 Samuel has taken Saul aside, even away from his servant, and given him the Word from God. He takes a flask of oil and pours it on his head, kisses him and tells him he will be the captain over his inheritance, and when Saul leaves he will find 2 men by Rachel's grave. They will tell Saul that his donkeys have been found and his father is now concerned about him. Are these the same 2 men at Jesus' tomb who the women saw when they came to anoint his body with oil in Luke 14:4? Is their job to guard holy bodies? And why Racheal's grave?
Rachel is a type of the New Testament and Leah the Old. Leah was Jacob's wife by law. He had to marry her first. But Rachel was chosen to be his wife because he loved her. He gave his life for Rachel. Rachel died to bring forth Benjamin which was a type of the church. Benjamin was the only brother that was related to Joseph by blood. We are related to Jesus because of his blood, not because we are Jews. When Jesus died, his death brought about the birth of the Church to fulfill Benjamin's type. So Saul is brought to this very place: Zelzah. "Zelzah" is an oximoron which means "clear shadow". The obvious and the hidden; a great way to describe this place. It is a clear shadow of what God is going to do many years later which was a mystery to them then.
For Saul, this was where he was going to be told that his natual mission and his duty for his natural father was accomplished. It was now time to focus on what God had in store for his future. Rachel's natural duty was done and so was Jesus's when they were put in their tombs. These 2 angles were there just to let us know, "It is finished". Lord, help us to die to the worries of this life and get on with the reason you put us here for this season.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday's Devo - Dust Yourself Off and Get Ready

Read 1 Sam 9
Saul is the 6th in his family line. Saul's name means "asked" which was why he became king. The people "asked" for a king. Six is the number of man. Man was created on the 6th day. So Saul was soulish. He was even taller than the other men. He was "goodly" but not "godly".
His father, Kish (which means "to set a trap") had lost his donkeys and sent Saul to find them. After traveling a good way away from home, he still hadn't found them and decided to go back home. His servant told him about a prophet that lived in the city they were in and maybe he could show them which way to go. Saul was hesitant because he didn't have a gift to give the prophet but, the servant had a 4-sided shekel he would give him. They asked some towns people where to find this prophet and, it was their lucky day; the prophet was coming to town for a special sacrifice. So they headed for the high place.
Meanwhile, Samuel had been told by God the day before that a man from the house of Benjamin would be at the sacrifice and he was to annoint this man to be the next king. On Saul's way to the sacrifice he passed Samuel and asked Samuel where the seer lived. Samuel told him he was the seer and to go up to the high place because today Saul was going to eat with him. He then told him that his donkeys he lost 3 days ago had been found. And if that didn't blow Saul's mind enough, he told him that he, Saul, was the answer to Israel's hopes. Saul argued about how he was the least, from the smallest family but since no one is insignificant to God, who cares! Saul is brought in and placed in the highest place of honor, given the best piece of meat, and he ate with the prophet. After lunch they went to Samuel's house where Samuel gave him one-on-one advice.
I love how God takes the smallest most insignificant people and overnight makes them a hero. It is sort of like American Idol. Nobody becomes Somebody. God knows just where we are and what he has prepared us for and when it is time to take us out and place us on the shelf he does it SUDDENLY! I know I have blogged about this before, but God just keeps reminding us of the same stuff. Probably, because He is fixing to do that soon.
Lord, prepare our hearts to be ready to be exposed and poured out for Your purposes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday's Devo - Watch What You Ask For

Read: 1 Sam 8:4-22
Samuel is old, his sons are not godly priests, and there is no one to lead the people spiritually, so they ask for a king. Samuel is saddened by this and takes it to God. God tells Samuel to give them what they ask for. So Samuel goes back to the people and tells them he will give them a king, but... this king will draft their sons, make them drive his chariots, plow his fields, harvest his crops, make his weapons, take their daughters for cooks and perfumers, take their fields and vineyards for himself, take a tithe of all they have, take their slaves and their best cattle, and they will be his slaves. When they decide this was a bad decision and want out, the Lord won't help them. What a choice. It seems to me that there would be no hesitating and the answer would be a NO!!! But, it wasn't. The people refused to take Samuel's warning and said they wanted a king anyway.
When I was in college, I wanted a car real bad. A friend of mine was selling his car and everyone thought I should buy it. It was an orange Vega that drank oil like it was gasoline, backfired and was a standard (of which I had never driven before). I was determined this was the car for me. I didn't even look anywhere else. My parents tried to talk me out of it, especially the "standard" part, to no avail. I promised to pay the payments and keep the car full of gas and oil. They let me get the car. Learning to drive it in a hilly town was a nightmare. I had to map out my destination to avoid all intersections at the top of hills, which in Ruston, was quite a feat. I had to go through the humiliation of backfiring black smoke, running out of oil, grinding the gears, etc. Then there were the monthly payments that got old real fast. Believe me, next time I needed to make a purchase of that magnitude I remembered all my parents had tried to warn me. God sometimes gives us what we ask for even if it isn't His best. But he always warns us first.
Lord, help us to heed your warnings and cherish your protection even if we don't understand it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday's Devo - "Mirror, Mirror, on My Heart...."

Dave and I lived in a small shack-like house. I left for a walk and decided to go back home. I passed the house we had lived in for a while and it looked worse that I had remembered. But, we had good memories there. I saw a cute guy walking by who smiled at me. I walked around to avoid him. This led me to a beautiful neighborhood of hills and enormous houses. I heard voices and saw a young man and woman talking in the backyard. It looked like they liked each other and were neighbors. He had blonde hair and blue eyes. As I passed by this house a soccer ball rolled out of the gate. I kicked it back in. Nothing happened so I climbed up the old concrete wall around the yard. The wall was wide at the top and I saw the boys father standing by the wall. He smiled at me and I continued to climb on top of the wall. The young man and woman walked over to help me. The young man squatted on his knees and wanted me to jump on his legs. I did and he looked into my eyes with the most gentle look. I was very shy and tentative. He could tell I was and was assuring and kind. He led me around to the other side of the house. There was a young girl there with 2 old hand mirrors. She handed me one. I never looked at the reflection of myself but tried to read the small words that were engraved on the back of the mirror. I woke up.
Interpretation: No matter how lovely our house is down here it is a shack from heaven's perspective. I was being led to heavenly places where the houses were extraordinary and beautiful. The first cute guy was the counterfeit. Satan always sends the counterfeit to draw us off the right path. This guy was headed over a hill that I couldn't see over. Satan is deceptive and never shows you where you are going till it is too late to turn back. The young man in the back yard was Jesus. I was drawn to him so he gave me the invitation to come in (the soccer ball). I climbed over the wall. I could have gone through the gate. We have access to the things of God, but I didn't feel comfortable in doing that, but I was curious enough to scale the wall. His dad wasn't mad at all. That was God. He seemed pleased that I would be interested in his son. Jesus came down and humbled himself before me (squatted on his knees). He never asked me what I was doing on his property. He seemed so welcoming and aware of my frailty. He led me around and the Holy Spirit gave me a present. A mirror. A mirror is one's heart. I didn't look at my own reflection because in heaven every reflection is of Jesus. We look at everything through the Words he gives us. He gave me his words (he has written His Word on our hearts). I wish I could have read them. I tried. I guess they were written in heaven's language. Lord, I ask you to show me what they were.
I don't know why God gave me this dream now but for some reason I am going to need those words that God has engraved on my heart for something ahead. God, thank you for that dream. Give your body dreams and visions to prepare us for what you are up to.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday's Devo - What happened to the children?

Read 1 Sam 8: 1-3
Samuel has 2 sons just like Eli, his mentor. And just like his mentor's sons Hophni and Phineas, Samuel's sons do not follow the Lord. Why is this? Samuel named his son's Joel which means "Jehovah is his God", and Abiah which means "worshipper of Jehovah". Great names with great meanings only naming them great names was not enough. He had to train them. In all his knowledge of God's word and his ability to hear God's voice; how was he so deficient in fatherhood? I guess we will never know. After all, his mentor didn't teach him well.
I was reading Ps 144 the other day and ran across this verse: "May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace." Every time I come across a scripture I want to claim over my life I say it out loud. Believe me, this was an "out-loud" one. Having 3 sons and one daughter-in-law and one to be, I am always looking for promises for them. See, I know I made mistakes in raising my kids. I was not a perfect mom nor Dave a perfect dad; but God is, and He is able to perfect in our children in the things that need perfecting.
Yesterday was Christmas and Dave and I went to the shelter and prepared Christmas dinner for the battered women. Our ministry was more in the kitchen with the ones helping. It was a real honor and privilege to work with the ones God placed there. My son Caleb, and his girl friend Katy, in Louisiana did the same thing. I was more excited about them serving than us. They actually got interviewed and on the news!
Lord may this next generation of warriors be plants and pillars not perverted and pitiful.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thurs. Devo - Let it Thunder

Merry Christmas!!!
Read 1 Sam 7
The men of Kirjath-jearim took the ark to Abinadab's house. Abinadab means "a willing soldier". His son Eleazar was given the responsibility of keeping it safe. So, of course, his name means "protector, helper". The ark remained there for 20 years. God loves numbers; so much so that he named a whole book Numbers. Numbers are important because God has a purpose in them. So I looked up all the things that had to do with 20.

Jacob served in Laban's house 20 years then left
Joseph was sold to Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver and brought to Egypt
At 20 years of age you could start offering to God, go to war, and be counted in your family
There were 20 boards, 20 pillars, and 20 sockets on south side of the Tabernacle
22,000 Levites were counted
On the 20th day of 2nd month in 2nd year the cloud moved from Mt Sinai and they started their journey through the wilderness.
All the kings I could find came to power in their 20's

So what does that mean? I think if is a turning point, a number of accountability. In our story the ark stayed in Abinadab's house till the people decided they would give up their idols and follow God wholeheartedly. When they did God delivered them from the Philistines. He did it with thunder. Thunder is God making an announcement of change that can not be understood by the world. It confused the Philistines so bad they couldn't fight. But the Israelites could because they knew this thunder was from God and that He was bringing about a change of rulership. They were returning back to his rule. That is was is so encouraging about God, no matter how far we have gone from Him, if we return with our whole heart, He will deliver us SUDDENLY!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wed. Devo - Do I Hear What You Hear?

This is Christmas Eve. Outside, the weather is gray and cold and I'm sitting at my kitchen table with my Diet Coke and my fire place going and the tree lights lit. Although we have done Christmas, I am filled with such excitement and expectancy. Tomorrow, Dave and I will go to the battered women's shelter and fix their Christmas meal. What started out as a little "feed the homeless" is ending up being a bigger production. We picked the menu, will cook, serve, and clean up after. A friend who didn't have anything to do is coming to help and now I talked to another friend who might bring her boy friend and help too. God always has bigger plans than ours. He certainly had bigger plans 2,000 years ago when he sent a baby to us. How strange for an all-powerful God to send himself down as our equal. He is desperate to let us know Him. Yet, it seems we still can't seem to bring him down to our level. He really is concerned about curtains, hang nails, hurt feelings, and what we are thinking about right now. He really wants to play with us, laugh with us, and cry with us. He MADE us! He made us with purpose and precision. I think the greatest Christmas present we can give God is to bring him down to our lives and enjoy his company. He would love to really spend the day with us.
Lord, I invite you to my life. I want to experience life through you. Open my eyes to see what you see and hear what you hear. Let my life bring you joy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tues. Devo - Five Golden Rings

Read 1 Sam 6: 16
I wonder about the 5 major cities that the ark visited and as a result were plagued with bubonic. Why 5? David took up 5 stones to kill Goliath. Joshua killed 5 kings and hung them on 5 trees. Five Philistine rulers, 5 amorite kings, 5 . In Revelation 9 the 5th angel blew his trumpet and locusts appeared to torture the ungodly for 5 months. The number 5 is everywhere in the tabernacle: 5 curtains, 5 pillars, 5 bars of wood, the court was 5 cubit high, the altar is made 5 cubits long and 5 cubits broad, Joseph gave Benjamin 5 changes of raiment instead of the one he gave to the other brothers. The sacrifice for the peace offerings were 5 rams, 5 he goats, 5 lambs. Five seems to be a hinge number; half-way between 1 and 10. In the tabernacle 10 candlesticks were placed: 5 on the left and 5 on the right. Ten tables were also placed, 5 on the right and 5 on the left. Sounds like end-time judgement to me. Judgment and curses to the ungodly and protection and boundaries to the godly. I guess it depends on how you swing the door. I was wondering how God felt about them opening the ark and putting their sacrifice in it. Well now we know: He didn't like it. He killed the men of Beth-shemesh because they looked into the ark: 50,300 of them died. They had to send men from another town to tell the Israelites that they had brought their ark back. They wanted to make sure the ark got back to the right owners. This reminds me of the verse that says the Christian is an aroma of life to those being saved and the fragrance of death to those who are perishing. How true in this story. This ark was such a curse in the wrong hands but such a blessing in the right hands. Lord, may we be life-giving perfume to the saved and the dreadful smell of death and doom to the perishing so that they may choose salvation.

Monday's Devo - You can't put the Cart before the Cow

Read 1 Sam 6:14-15
The cart brings the ark of God's presence right to the field of Joshua, which is another name for Jesus, who is a Beth-shemite (which means "house of the sun"). And it stopped in front of a great stone. I love how easy God makes it for us to know what to do. The men know exactly what God wanted them to do. They take the cart, dismantle it and use it for a sacrificial fire. They sacrifice the cows! How convenient!
And that is the whole story: God sent his presence in Jesus, down to the world (Jesus' field). Jesus is from the House of God. The whole plan is placed upon the Rock (the Word of God). This plan is the sacrificial death of Jesus which will take away the curse of sin.
Just as Jesus was the cow, the heafer, the lamb, the burnt offering, that carried the presence of God down to earth, we are the cart today that carries the presence of God wherever we go. But in order to have any power we have to be broken and put in the fire and completely burned up for God. Half-death won't do it, it has to be a total death to ourselves. A little painful, but worth the smoke.
Make our lives a sacrifice to you Lord Jesus.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thurs. Devo - Come on Down!

Read 1 Sam 6:1-13
My friend, Anna, says that the economy of the Kingdom of God is this: We give him our junk and He gives us his best. Beauty for ashes, life for death, truth for lies, blessings for curses, healing for emerods. The Philistines cashed in on this. They had the curse, so they made five golden emerods and threw in five golden mice because they were plagued with both. Their fear of God goes back to the stories about Egypt. They sure don't want that God on their back! So they came up with a plan. Make a new cart and put the ark in it and attach 2 milking cows to them. Separate their calves from them and leave the calves at home. Milking cows cannot be separated from their calves. The mother instinct in them is ferocious. But God was going to display His glory over his creation. Instead of the cows turning back to their calfs, they never looked back. They were driven by a supernatural force which defied motherly instincts. The Philistines did this as a test to tell them whether this was the hand of God or not. If the cows went to Bethshemsh (which means house of the sun) it was God's hand. They did.
The cows showed up in the field of Joshua and stopped in front of a great stone. This "rock" has followed them all through the wilderness (1Co 10:4) and continues to show up from time to time. Sometimes as one rock like the one Jacob put his head on and dreamed of the portal to heaven, or many like the ones they pile up for memorials. We know that rock was Jesus. The farmers were reaping the wheat, so that tells us it is the season of Pentecost. Interestingly they are bringing back the presence of the Lord. On a certain Pentecost in Acts God sent down his Holy Spirit to all men and the "church" was born. God with us. Emanuel. In a week it will be Christmas. These farmers rejoiced to see the ark coming. The disciples in Acts rejoiced in receiving the Holy Spirit. The angels rejoiced to see the Son coming. God just loves to come down to us. We have reason to rejoice. He is with us all the time! Thank you Lord for your enormous incredible plan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tues Devo - God's gift to us

Read 1 Sam 4:12-22
A soldier from the battle with his clothes torn and earth upon his head. This was a sign of great mourning. He didn't even have the strength to stay and fight. He told the whole town what that the Philistines had won, they had taken the ark and the priests Hophne and Phinihas were killed. When Eli heard the news about the ark his failing heart gave up, he fell over backwards and broke his neck and died.
His daughter-in-law was very pregnant and when she found out she went into labor. As the child was being born, she was slowly dieing. When the midwife told her it was a boy she was unmoved. She named the child Ichabod which means "no glory" because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, "The glory is departed from Israel; for the ark of God is taken.
It is hard for me to understand such sorrow over a piece of furniture. But then I have to realize that that piece of furniture was God's presence. I take for granted that God's spirit is always with me. I don't have to worry about it being taken away and I don't have to travel for miles every year to go see it. It is in me. That helps me understand a little better what a gift the Holy Spirit was. When Jesus told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait because He was going to give them a gift. What a gift!!! Thank you Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday's Devo - From Judgment to Promises

Read 1Sam 3:20-4:11
Samuel was known as a prophet of God from "Dan to Beersheba". From "Dan to Beersheba"... I remember reading that many times in the Bible so I looked it up. It is a saying that is used 8 times in the Bible. Dan was the most northern Israelite city and Beersheba was the most southern place in the land. I looked them up on a map and it was hard for me to believe they meant south and north since they were not that far apart. So I dug deeper. I found that "Beersheba" means "well of an oath" and these wells were dug about 5 meters deep. "Dan" on the other hand means "judge" and is in the hill country. It makes me wonder if the difference was vertical instead of horizontally. The judges like Samson came from Dan. The Anti-Christ is believed to come from Dan. So could Dan mean "high; pride; self-exaltation?" Beersheba seemed to be a place where God had given His promises and these wells were physical memorials to God's promise. Abraham dug them and Isaac had to contend for the land they were on, then redig them. So Dan and Beersheba seem like opposites: judgment and promises kind of like the Old covenant (judgment) and the New covenant (promises).
On with the story... "The Lord appeared again in Shiloh". "Shiloh" means "tranquility; prosperity; safety."
Into chapter 4: You would think that now a godly man is their prophet that everything would go well, but no. They have to reap the years of rebellion they sowed. The Philistines come against them and slaughter 4,00 of them. So they decide to call on God and go get the Ark of the Covenant. It has become an idol to them, not a way of life. Hophni and Phinehas bring it into the camp with enough shouting and fanfare to scare the Philistines into fighting even harder so they won't become their slaves. The next day the Israelites lose 30,000 men, the ark gets confiscated, and Eli's 2 sons were killed. All of this is fulfillment of God's judgments.
I'm glad God put it "from judgment to promises." We are suppose to love his judgments because they are true and righteous. They lead us to His promises which are yea and amen! Lord, lead us through your judgments to your promises!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Psalms 133:1 - "Behold, How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
When I typed this scripture I left out the first word "behold". I realized I liked it and put it back in. Then I started thinking about the word "behold" and looked it up. It is used 1,275 times in the Bible. It means look and see the surprise! The reason I was reminded of this scripture is that today our church hosts TOYS FOR TOTS. We will have thousands of less-privaledged families come to our church to get toys for their kids for Christmas. We will shop with them, play with them, entertain them, serve them, and present them with Jesus' love. It is one of the greatest days for our church. Everyone gets involved doing their different tasks. We all come away with such a fulfilled feeling and such an empty feeling. Fulfilled because we have helped so many families and have been able to give them the love of Jesus. Empty, because there are millions others out there that need this and so much more. This is just a drop in the bucket; but at least it's a drop and that is our part today.
So today, I want to "behold" the unity of God's children as they work together for Jesus. I pray we will show forth the goodness and pleasantness of our God.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Planning the Meal"

It's Christmas time and a great time to reflect on things. Christmas fills me with such opposing and diverse emotions. I love it because Jesus is brought out of the closet, dusted off and put on a shelf for all to see. I was walking through Wal-Mart the other morning and the song "O Holy Night" was playing through the speakers. I have to admit I was almost embarassed because using his name in public places has become a federal offense in our nation. Then, I relaxed and relished in hearing my Savior's name sung so all could hear. People seem to be friendlier and more out-going. Total strangers start conversations while standing in shopping lines. Salvation Army bells ring everywhere. Everyone wants your money from the mall to the non-profit organizations. Churches everywhere have programs to express the real meaning of the season. Kids are making their lists and visiting Santa Clause in the mall. It is such a busy time.
But for me, this Christmas is so different. For one thing, it will be the first Christmas we don't spend with our kids. We will to to La. to see them the week-end before Christmas then come back to OK. Dave has to work Christmas Eve till 7 and also the day after Christmas. We have had invitations for Christmas Day so we don't feel sad about it; actually we feel a little excited. We decided to do something manevolent so I called all the shelters, and organizations I could think of that might be feeding the less fortunate. I had no idea that my idea was such a popular thing to do. They all had enough volunteers. I finally called Day Spring Villa, a shelter for battered women and their children. They had one other couple who had offered to serve on Christmas day. When I asked her what I could do, she replied, "You could plan the meal". Well, that was not exactly what I had in mind. I am not the administrative type and would rather help someone else's plan, not BE the plan. She kept repeating that I could "plan the meal" so I told her I would get back with her. I had to talk to Dave and pray about this one. I finally decided to call back and find out exactly what "planning the meal" meant. Well, it means you decide what 45 people are going to eat, and make out the grocery list. They buy the food and have it there waiting for you Christmas day. You prepare it, serve it, and I imagine, clean up. Well there you have it: "plan the meal".
Come to think of it, that is exactly what God did on Christmas two thousand years ago. He planned the meal. He sent the bread of Heaven down for us to eat. He invited everyone from the peasant to the king to come to his table and eat his meat. He even watched his meal be prepared, killed, and offered up for all men forever to partake of. Many turned up their noses at the sacrificial meal that God gave. I wonder how that makes God feel? I wonder if I will feel a teeny bit of what He feels if they don't like what I plan?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday's Devo - "Pick up Your Words and Follow Me."

Read 1 Sam. 3:1-19
I love the way God gives us tangible signs of spiritual things like: "the word of God was precious", "no open vision", "Eli had laid down", "his eyes were waxing dim and he could not see." In other words, the seer anointing that had been on Eli was being passed down to Samuel.
It even goes on to say that "before the lamp of God went out in the temple". God was doing a shifting of temples from Eli's line to Samuel's. In verses 4-14 Samuel is getting his first lesson in seership. I find it very encouraging that Samuel didn't even realize it was God's voice. How many times has God been speaking to me and I didn't perceive it till much later. I think God had it planned that way because now Eli knew there was a word from God and Samuel couldn't hold it back. Of all things, the first thing Samuel has to do is to rebuke his mentor and spiritual father. I think this was a precursor to what Samuel's ministry was going to be like.
God is about to make everyone afraid by the judgement that comes down on Eli and his house. Judgment begins in the house of the Lord with the leaders going first.
Apparently Samuel didn't have a very good night's sleep and in the morning he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. His ministry was just that: to open the doors of the house of the Lord. He brought back the presence and holiness of the Lord to the Temple.
Even though Samuel didn't want to tell Eli what God had said, because he honored him, he did. So Samuel grew and the Lord was with him, "and he let none of his words fall to the ground." That phrase is spoken of a lot in our house. How incredible to have that prophetic track record that every word you gave someone was exactly right and accomplished its purpose.
Lord, anoint our lips to speak only things that bring life, not empty words that would fall to the ground.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday's Devo - My vote - LIFE!!!

Read 1 Sam. 2:12-37
Eli had 2 sons: Hophni which means fists (which I guess means he was a handful) and Phinehas which means mouth of a serpent. They were wicked priests who used the office of God to further their own agenda. They ate the sacrifice that was suppose to be burned, cheated the people, had sex with the women who followed them, and basically treated God with contempt. Needless to say, God was not pleased with them and planned to kill them. God is very merciful until you start leading others astray and profaning what He calls holy. They were doing all this.
But then there was Samuel... the mirror opposite of them. As a child, he wore a linen robe and ministered to the Lord in a very wicked time. Every year his mother, Hannah, would make him a mantle or robe and bring it to him. Eli blessed her with the promise of many children and she had 3 sons and 2 daughters.
Eli had heard of all the wicked things his 2 sons were doing and rebuked them. He warned them that God would take their life if they didn't repent, but they refused to listen. They had no fear of God.
But then there was Samuel... the mirror opposite of them. He had God and man's favor. God sent a prophet to Eli to rebuke him for giving his son's more honor than he was giving the Lord. Because Eli allowed his sons to do this, the priesthood would be stripped from his family and all of his offspring would die young. The life that they would live would be full of sadness and grief and their children would die a violent death. What a curse! To prove this prophecy was true, both Hopni and Phinehas would die on the same day.
But then there was Samuel...the mirror opposite of them. He would be raised up a faithful priest who would serve God and do His will. His family would be established and they would be God's priests forever. They would serve annointed kings. What a blessing!!!
God puts before us life and death, curses or blessing, everyday. We make the choice. Lord, we choose You. Turn our hearts to desire the blessing, no matter how hard the sacrifice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday's Devo - God Heard

Read 1 Sam. 1-2:11
Elkanah was a man from Bethlehem who had 2 wives: Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was barren. Every year they took a pilgrimmage to Shiloh to sacrifice at the tabernacle. Elkanah gave each child and his wives meat from the sacrifice. Penninah would taunt Hannah to tears because she didn't have any children. Hannah cried out to the Lord and told him that if He would give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord. Eli was the priest and saw Hannah crying and praying in the temple. He thought she was drunk and rebuked her. She told him she was not drunk but pouring out her heart to the Lord. He told her God would give her what she prayed for. She believed him and was filled with joy.
They went home, Hannah became pregnant and had Samuel which means "God heard". She stayed home till Samuel was weaned (about 3 years old) then took him to the temple and gave him to Eli. She then breaks into this beautiful prayer about how God raises up the humble and lowly and puts down the proud and exalted. She proclaims God's power and strength. Then she and her husband go home without Samuel and he stays to serve Eli.
As a mother I can't imagine doing this. After not being able to have children and finally having your dream come true, you give it up. It would seem like this would be excruciating, but not to Hannah. She lived for this moment. She rejoiced because God gave her strength. She made a vow to the Lord and kept it. In 2:21 God gave Hannah 3 sons and 2 daughters to take the place of what she had given up. God is like that. When we give up something, He blesses us in proportion to what we give him only His return is so much bigger and better.
It's Christmas time and there are more needs this year than ever because of the economy. That means, we have more opportunities to give. I love it because like my pastor always says, "We never look more like Jesus than when we are giving." Lord, help us to open our hearts and give you everything.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday's Devo - Line Upon Line

Read Ruth 3:13-4:
Last night I started studying about winnowing wheat. This is a symbol of last day judgement. In the end God will winnow his wheat and cast the chaff into everlasting death and the wheat into everlasting life. In Jer. 15:7 winnowing is used to describe God's testing of the people"with a winnowing fork in the gates of the land." Two places associated with justice are used here: the threshing floor where the winnowing was done and the gate, which was the center of business and legal activity. Since Boaz was doing this at midnight, and midnight was also the time Samson took the gates of the Philistines and carried them on his shoulders and put them on top of the hill Hebron (which was the seat of witchcraft), then is that not a picture of what God will do to the spiritual doors and entrances of evil in the Judgment?
Back to the story: Ruth lay at his feet through the night and in the morning she rose up to go home. Not before Boaz gives her 6 measures of barley in her veil. Ruth takes home the good grain to Naomi. Naomi knew Boaz meant business and would tend to it right away. Boaz goes to the gate of the city to talk to the closer of kin. He offers him to buy Naomi's land which the man quickly agrees to do, until he is told that Ruth comes with it. He then changes his mind. It wasn't Ruth he was rejecting, it was the fact that he had to build up the name of Ebimelech, it would mar his own inheritance. Thank God, Boaz didn't care about his own inheritance. He redeemed Ruth just like God redeemed the Gentile to raise up an inheritance among us just like he did in the Jews. Boaz bought all that was Chilion's and Mahlons, to "raise up the name of the dead". I call that resurrection! Then the witnesses blessed Ruth. They prayed that her house be compared to Jacob's which brought forth the 12 tribes of Israel; and may she be famous in Bethlehem. (Interestingly she brought forth Jesus's line which made Bethlehem famous.) Then they prayed that she be like Pharez who was Judah's son, whose mother was Tamar. Another woman who went to great lengths to carry on her family line. All this line led to Jesus (read Matt. 1). This child brought Naomi life and joy. His name was Obed which means "servant". He served Naomi well and the rest of us.
Thank you Jesus for being our Kinsman Redeemer!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday's devo - Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh

Read Ruth 3: 1-12
I don't think I have ever realized that Boaz took 1 whole year to Ruth to marry him, or for Ruth to throw herself in his arms. Another interesting thing to note is that Boaz was the grandson of Rahab, the harlot in the Jericho story. So both of them were "outcasts" of society that had found favor with God and their fellow men. This makes it an even better picture of the Gentile being grafted into Jesus' line.

Naomi thinks it is time to find Ruth a home and she knows that Boaz will be winnowing barley tonight so she sends Ruth to get her man. It was the custom for the owner of the land or a trusted manager to sleep by the grain since the threshing floor was open to the air and easy to be stolen. They threshed at night because the wind was greater and the grain could more easily be separated from the chaff. This speaks to me of the day when God will reap the earth and separated the evil from the good. On this day Jesus will claim his bride. Notice that she comes to him, annointed with the oil of gladness. Oil was a sign of joy and the only time they did not annoint themselves was when they were in mourning. This is no time to mourn.

Naomi is a picture of the "law" thus she is the "mother-in-law". But, unlike what we think of normally of the law, she is pleasant, good, and helps Naomi. God's laws are good, pleasant, and a help to us when we obey them. Ps. 105 is full of all the wonderful benefits of following God's laws. In vs. 5, Ruth says she will do all Naomi tells her to do. The Bride of Christ in the end will be totally obedient to all God's laws.

Boaz awakes at midnight. Mat. 25:6 says, "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go meet him." At midnight the "Death Angel" came to the evil people in Egypt.

Ruth asks Boaz to "spread his skirt" over her because he is a near kinsman. In a Jewish wedding the groom will take his taliph (his robe) and put it over his bride's head to signify he will take care of her from now on. Only a brother-in-law is legally obligated to take his brother's wife. So Boaz was not obligated. He chose to redeem Ruth. But first there was this piece of land that needed to be settled......tomorrow.

Father, thank you that we have the Bridegroom to look forward to meeting, not the Death Angel. Sober us up to reach out to a dying world. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Just me "Shooting Off"

Yesterday, Dave and I took a concealed weapon's class at the gun club. Dave had been looking so forward to this day. He couldn't wait to shoot a pistol. I couldn't wait till it was going to be over. It was conducted in a small tin shack out in the middle of who-knows-where. There were 16 men, mostly Harley-Davidson lifers who owned an arsenal of guns and ammo and 3 women. We spent the first 4 hours listening to the 2 instructors rattle off the whole gun safety book by heart in the style of Saturday Night Live. They had it down to a fine art. Then they took us out to the rifle range. The women went first and I was by the Harley-Davidson/pool hall/red-neck/instuctor. Being A.D.D., I couldn't remember the safety from the release which was totally absurd in his eyes since he had showed me ONCE. His patience was about as long as a piece of hair turned sideways. He finally turned me over to a young volunteer (so that I wouldn't slow down his class) who was very patient and kind, but the damage was already done. I had started crying and couldn't stop. I somehow managed to shoot off the rest of my rounds and actually hit the huge green mountain in front of me. (They had taken away my target). I went back to the bleachers where Dave was and was so relieved when Dave said that was it and I wouldn't have to do that again. Well.....when they called the last group up there was room for one more so they made me come back up and shoot again. I would have rather been the target! I went up there only because I had no voice to say no because I still couldn't stop crying. So here we go again. This time I was at the other end by the other instructor. He was so kind and I hit the bullseye and the rest of the targets (there were 5). He gave me twice the bullets everyone else was given. I got home and still cried for 2 more hours. I couldn't understand why I couldn't get over this and I still can't. I know that I "stuff" everything until some insignificant thing busts a hole in my dam and the water comes spewing forth. Well, it is better when you are not in public when this happens but, since it was I hope God can use it. Maybe, just to soften that instructor's heart so he can be saved. I don't know, but I'll have to trust God on this one. Although, secretly, I hope I never have to see any of these people again.
The Psalms I read today says, "From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me, but they have never defeated me. But the Lord is good; he has set me free from the ungodly."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

From Pressure to Pleasure

I decided to let the week-end just be my reflections so ......
This week has been a week of falling down and God picking me back up. About 2 months ago, a friend of mine gave me a project to do that was "out of my box". He does woodwork and makes these beautiful bowls, pots, vases, etc. He wanted me to paint on them. I was reluctant, but finally agreed to try when he told me he would bring me 2 pots, one for me and one for him. Well, when he brought them to me there was only one and he wanted it back. He told me later he was going to give it to a lady friend of his. So I put this pot on my bar in my kitchen so I could study it, I went to the library and looked in books of other wood pots and I couldn't think of anything that could make the pot look better than it already was. But, out of desperation and the desire to "finish" it I started painting on it. After doing 3 sides of it I stopped. I hated it, but more than anything, I just wanted to be finished with it. It had become an albatross to me. I finally took it out of town for my friend, Anna to see it. She took one look and said, "I bet we could get that paint off." I was so discouraged, but she was relentless and drove me to Wal-Mart and bought fine sand paper and started taking off my hard work. She was right. Then she took me to a book store and we poured over books of pictures of woodwork. I was more discouraged than before. Finally I decided to give the pot back. All the paint, and some of the finish was off. I was going to tell him I just couldn't do it. I felt like a little child who had been sat on the piano bench to play Beethoven's 5th after one lesson. I could have done it if I had been given a pot to experiment on and make mistakes on.

Yesterday, I took the pot back to Mike and told him I was sorry, I just couldn't relax and do this knowing that I had to not only please him, but some person I didn't know also. I was afraid it would hurt our friendship, so I did a lot of praying about it. All the songs on my IPOD that day had been about not giving up. When I gave it back he was so kind. He refused to take it back. He said I could keep it and mess it up anyway I wanted it. He would make something else for that lady and I could take as long as I wanted. I felt totally set free. On the way home I got great ideas of what to do on that pot. I was amazed at the transformation in me. I quess that is how we feel when we put so much pressure on ourselves to perform for other people. I felt totally unable to do this for a grade. Now I can do it for fun.

Lord, set us free from trying to please other people and give us second chances to do things for You and use the gifts you have given us without the pressure.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday's Devotion - Reaping in the Right Field

Read Ruth 2:15-23
Boaz is such a gentle man. He tells his young men to let Ruth glean in the open field and to drop some for her on purpose. In Lev.23:22 it gives the law concerning reaping your harvest. You were not suppose to reap the corners or go back over your field to get any remaining produce. The corners and the excess was to go to the poor. Boaz was extending mercy to Ruth past the law. Isn't that what Jesus does for us when we are new to the things of God? He goes past the law and extends abundant mercy. Ruth gathered an ephath of grain which is 5 gallons worth. I would quess that a poor person might be able to glean that in a week! No wonder Naomi was surprised. When Ruth told her that it was Boaz's field, she was elated because he was a near relative. Boaz had instructed her not to glean in any other field but his. Naomi warned her to stay with his field also. She did; through the barley harvest and the wheat harvest.
This says to me that when we stay obedient to Jesus and stay on his path that he has made for us, we will have abundance. The grass always looks greener on the other side till we get there. Someone else's gift looks better that ours till we try to be them. We were all given a field to reap and glean in and it is safer, more fruitful, and definitely more rewarding to stay there. One of Christian's greatest temptations is to get out of their "field" into someone else's because they feel too quilty to say "no". A sign of maturity is when you know your calling and are confident in Jesus enough to know He will give you grace for what He has called you to, otherwise you are on your own. And doing things in your own strength is exausting and unproductive. It will rob you of your confidence and your passion.
Lord, show us our field and give us the wisdom to stay there till you move us on to new fields.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday's Devotion - Food from the Fields

I went out-of-town yesterday to meet my dear friend, Anna, in the booming metropolis of Antlers, Texas. Population: one Mc Donald's. I had a great time and am now back to study Ruth!
Read Ruth 2:1-14
Naomi's late husband, Elimelech had a relative named Boaz who was very rich. "Boaz" means "in him is strength". Later when they built the temple they named one of the two pillars "Boaz" and the other one "Jachin". Boaz was from the kingly line which Jesus would come from. Jachin was from a priestly tribe. Jesus is both king and priest and his kingdom will be built upon that concept.
Ruth goes out to glean the fields for food. She 'just happened' to go to Boaz's field. Boaz came out to see his workers and the first thing he does is speak a blessing over them. Then he notices Ruth and asked about her. They tell him what a hard worker she is and who she is staying with. Boaz tells Ruth to continue reaping with his maidens and when she gets thirsty to drink the water that he has provided for his workers. He also tells her she is protected there. She is humbled and grateful and wonders why he has singled her out to show such kindness. He tells her he has heard of her story and is impressed. He then gives her a most profound promise. He says in paraphrase: 'May God reward you completely for all you have given up to find refuge in God.' Then he extends an invitation for her to come and eat lunch with him. He says, "come and eat of the bread, and dip your morsel in the vinegar." Is that not the cross he was inviting her to?
This is a perfect picture of what salvation looks like. She is a foreigner who has chosen the God of the Hebrews. Boaz, as Jesus, presents himself to her and gives her the invitation to walk with him (reap in his fields). She agrees to do that. He gives her water (the Spirit) and food (the Word) dipped in vinegar (persecution; trouble). But he has promised her protection from her enemies. We are born sinners and foreigners. When we decide to choose God to be our god He introduces us to his Son, Jesus. Jesus offers us the invitation and we accept. He provides us with his Spirit, his Word, protection, and death to this life. It all comes dipped in trouble, persecution, and tribulation. Romans says that we glory in tribulation because it produces patience in our lives. God knows just what we need to make us perfect and complete. Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation, but fear not, for I have overcome the world."
At the end of verse 14 it says Ruth ate, was full, and left. Lord, we come to your Word to eat of you because you totally satisfy us. May we be made strong to do the task you have for us to do today. We will be back for more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday's Devotion - From Bitter to Barley

Read Ruth 1:15-22
I think it is noteworthy that Naomi said that Orphah had gone back to her people and her gods. Ruth made it clear to Naomi that she knew that choosing to go to Naomi's people was also choosing Naomi's peoples' god. That proclamation was Ruth's salvation confession. They traveled till they came to the "House of Bread" - Bethlehem. (That is exactly where we need to live when we come into salvation - God's Word.)
In verse 19 it says that "all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?" "Moved about them" in the Hebrew means "greatly agitated; made an uproar". I don't know why they were so upset; maybe it was because she brought a Moabite with her or maybe because she and her sons chose to leave when things got rough. Anyway, Naomi was very humbled and told them to call her "Mara" which means "bitter; heavy". She had left with her sons - her hope for an inheritance - and had come back with a Moabite woman who would not carry on her name. What I love about God is that no matter how hopeless the situation seems, He is not confined to our imagination. He supercedes our hopes and gives us something beyond our dreams. He did that for Naomi.
Notice that they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. Barley harvest has to do with great growth. Pentecost is the beginning of barley harvest and it signifies the beginning of a new spiritual harvest. For the children of Israel, the first Pentecost was at Mt. Sinai where God gave them his laws and betrothed Israel to himself. In the New Testament it signified God's gift of the Holy Spirit when God betrothed himself to the Church. In Ruth, it was the grafting in of the Gentile into the Holy line of Kings. Jesus came from Ruth's line. Ruth stands for the Church at large: Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, the whosoevers. Thank you God, that you came to save the whole earth!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday's Devo - Choose Life

Read Ruth 1:1-14
Yey, I'm back from Thanksgiving. I love to be with my family. I love the way it's growing (Caleb has a girl friend, Josh has a wife). But, it is good to be home. I wonder if it was hard for Ruth to leave everything she knew to follow Naomi. Where were Ruth's parents? Did they object to her leaving? What about her friends? Naomi must have been a wonderful mother-in-law. Oh yea, Naomi knew God! I sometimes forget what a difference we are to the world. We stand out like lights and either people are drawn to the light or they are repelled by it. The stronger our light the more the attraction or the rejection.
We learn a lot in the first verse: judges are ruling and the land is under God's judgement because of sin. So much so, that people were having to go live in lands of their enemy to just exist. Elimelech moved his family to Moab. Moab was one of the children born of an incestrial relationship between Lot and his daughter. "Elimelech" means "strong and mighty king" and "Naomi" means "pleasantness". They have 2 sons, Mahlon and Chilion whose names mean "sickly" and "destruction". Sounds a little like our heavenly Father, strong and mighty, who had children bent on sin and destruction. Anyway, Elimalech moves his family to Moab then dies there. Mahlon and Chilion find wives in Moab and live there for 10 years. I have always wondered why neither of them had children. I guess because sickness and destruction cannot produce life. Then the husbands both die. Ruth decides to go back to Bethlehem because she heard that God had visited his people again and given them bread. Funny how Bethlehem means "house of bread". The bread has returned. Her daughter-in-laws start out with her, but Naomi knows that she has no inheritance to offer them. She can't produce another husband for them so they might as well go back to what is familiar to them. They both cry and hug her, but only Ruth refuses to leave. Orpah leaves and Ruth remains. "Ruth" means "friend". (Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a brother.)
Ruth sees something in Naomi that is worth leaving everything for. She sees an inheritance that is better than the natural. She has "eyes to see". She chooses God. Orpah which means "stiff-necked" chooses what she knows; what is comfortable. Apparently, it wasn't great, but it was livable. What a shame. She could have had so much better. We have the same decision every day: choose life or choose death. "Life" is new and a little more risky sometimes because it requires faith, but the benefits are so much more weighty in eternal blessings.
Lord, open our eyes to see the difference between "life" and "death" in every decision we make today.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday's Devo - What's in my Eye?

Read Judges 21
This chapter is a story of redemption. God restoring after war and devastation. All Israel has promised not to give their daughters to a Benjamite to marry. Those who fight are mourning the loss of their brother Benjamin. They must have felt like I do when I hear another preacher has lost his church because of an affair, or another Christian marriage has broken up, or another Christian has decided to go after the things of the world. But, read verse 6. They repented
for Benjamin their brother. How sweet is that? Then they tried to find a solution for them to carry on their inheritance which would mean they would need women to marry. The other tribes had sworn they would not let any of their women marry Benjamites. This was a problem since most of their women had been killed in battle.
But before tending to that, they got rid of the sin in the camp. There was one group that didn't come out to fight. They sent 12,000 men to wipe out all except for the young virgins. The line of Jabesh-gilead was now stopped. "Jabesh-gilead" means a dried testimony. That just about explains what happened to their testimony - it dried up. If we don't fight for something we will have lived in vain.
Next they went to the Rock of Rimmon where some of the Benjamites had fled. I quess that was like running to the altar and holding on the horns for mercy. They gave these men the young virgins they had gotten in Jabesh-gilead, but there wasn't enough for every man. But, they remembered that Shiloah had a festival every year where the young virgins would come out and dance. They told the men to hide in the vineyards till the women came out to dance, then go get one. What a surprise for the women!!! Gives a new meaning to "being swept off your feet."
They did just that and took them back home to start building back Benjamin's inheritance. Notice the last line: "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes." That line is like God's disclaimer: '"this is man's way, not My way."
I sure don't want God to say that over my life: "she had no king, so she did what was right in her own eyes." This story seems so barbaric, so unfair, and so unGod. And it is, because what is right in our own eyes is always barbaric, unfair, and unGod. God, we seek your ways, your heart, your thoughts. We want to have you as our King and do everything that is right in Your eyes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tues. devo - I'm glad I don't live in the Old Testament

Read Judges 19-20
Israel is living in a time when "every man did what was right in their own eyes." I don't enjoy reading these chapters because it makes me sick to read what happened to that poor concubine. Women were treated like property: used and abused. A Levite is traveling with his concubine and comes to the Benjamite town of Gibeah, where he needs to stay for the night. An old man takes him home with him but when the men of the town found out there was a stranger in town they want him handed over to them to sexually abuse. The are homosexuals. The man gave them his concubine instead. (How inhumane!!!) These wicked men of Gibeah took her and abused her all night. The next morning they found her dead body at the door of the house and her hands on the threshold. When she wouldn't get up the man took her home and cut her body into 11 pieces and sent them to all the tribes of Israel except Benjamin. He rallied all of them to go fight this Benjamite town. The whole tribe of Benjamin chose to fight for this town.
The first two days of battle, the Benjamites won even though the Israelites had asked for God's blessing. By the third day, the Israelites were pretty discouraged. They fasted, prayed, offered sacrifices, and God told them they would win today. They drew the Benjamins away from the city and caught the city on fire. Israel won the victory.
Sometimes we have to keep fighting even when things don't look promising. There are some strongholds that "hold" on very "strongly". When the disciples couldn't cast out a deaf and dumb demon (Mark 9:17-29) Jesus said, "This kind come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Isaiah 58 says that fasting undoes heavy burdens, breaks yokes, and lets the oppressed go free.
Lord, give us a tenatious spirit to keep fighting against all odds. Show us when we need to fast, when we need to fight, and when we need to just be still and let you fight for us. In everything, we trust you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday's Devo - Samson vs. John the Baptist

Read Luke 1:5-17
I know Samson is finished, but I have to bring up an interesting discovery I made. I have found that the Bible is full of dualities. Two people will have so much in common, yet turn out completly opposite. (Jacob and Esau, Adam and Jesus, Isaac and Ishmael) I see this mirror image in Samson and John the Baptist. Both were born to women who were barren till God spoke life into their womb. Both parents were visited by an angel from the Lord and told not to eat or drink anything from the vine. Both were dedicated from the womb. Now things get different. Samson was put under a strict Nazirite vow. It was the epitome of living "under the law." He was to live all his life under this strict law. The law didn't make him a godly man, in fact, it did just the opposite. Religion makes you a Pharasee - good on the outside, but dead on the inside. Samson followed the strict law of the Nazirite (until Delilah) and broke all the others. He went after prostitutes, hung out with the heathens, murdered for revenge, destroyed property, etc., etc. The only time we see him calling out for God is in the end so he could "avenge his two eyes."
John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb. His mission was to turn the hearts of the children of Israel to the Lord. He was to give the spirit and power of Elijah. Samson had super natural strenth; John had Supernatural power. Both came from God: one natural, one spiritual. That is the main point about the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament is about laws that man cannot keep. The New Testament is about God's spirit who can give you power to overcome our flesh.
Samson brought fear and terror everywhere he went. John brought joy and salvation. I can't imagine what it was like to live in the Old Testament without a Bible and without the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful to be living now.
We have a mirror image. It is ourself. We have the "old man" and the "new man". The old man tries to follow God's laws with little success. The new man falls on the mercy of God and is strengthened with God's power to walk with God. The new is so much better. Romans is all about these two that war against each other. Lord, kill our flesh that your life might be resurrected in us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday Devo - Vow Fulfilled

Read Judges 16:21-31
Normally, a Nazirite makes a vow for a certain amount of time then is free. After he has fulfilled his vow he goes to the entrance of the Tabernacle and offers sacrifices to the Lord. Then the Nazirite shaves their head and the hair is placed on the fire under the sacrifice. The priest puts some of the sacrifice into the hands of the Naiarite. After this ceremony the Nazirite may drink wine again.
Samson was different because he was to be a Nazirite till he died. If a Nazirite comes into contact with a dead person, then the hair he has dedicated will be defiled and has to be shaved. That is what happened to Samson, he chose to associate with the dead - Deliah; so his head was defiled. It had to be shaved. Delilah had just the right barber. The Philistines put out his eyes, brought him to Gaza (which ironically means "strong") and bound him with fetters of brass. Brass is from a Hebrew word that means "from the red color of the throat of a serpent when hissing". Satan was certainly hissing when he delivered Samson over to the Philistines. His eyes had been used to get him in trouble in the past. He admired way too many women with them. His eyes won't be troubling him anymore. He was made to grind in the prison house.
However, God is a redeeming God. While Samson was grinding in the prison house, his hair began to grow. The Philistines were celebrating their fish god, Dagon for delivering them from their enemies, mainly Samson. After a few too many drinks, they called to have Samson brought out so they could taunt him. A much humbler Samson came out and called out to God to give him strength to avenge him of his eyes. He stood in the entrance of the building and took the pillars and brought the roof down. He became the sacrifice, that his vow would be fulfilled. He killed more Philistines in his death than in his life.
Samson is always a sad story to me because although Samson was dedicated to God, he never seemed to accept it or make it a goal. Instead of embracing his calling to start delivering the Israelites from the Philistines, he was motivated by revenge and rage. And instead of wanting a relationship with God, he had a lot of relationships with harlots. It does prove that the gifts of God are without repentence. (Ro. 11:29) They don't depend on our devotion or anything we do.
I pray that we use our gifts for God with great joy and devotion. May we enjoy our jouney with God and all the ways he choses to use us. Purify our hearts O God!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Devo - Vow Fulfilled

Read Judges 16:21-31
Normally, a Nazirite makes a vow for a certain amount of time then is free. After he has fulfilled his vow he goes to the entrance of the Tabernacle and offers sacrifices to the Lord. Then the Nazirite shaves their head and the hair is placed on the fire under the sacrifice. The priest puts some of the sacrifice into the hands of the Naiarite. After this ceremony the Nazirite may drink wine again.
Samson was different because he was to be a Nazirite till he died. If a Nazirite comes into contact with a dead person, then the hair he has dedicated will be defiled and has to be shaved. That is what happened to Samson, he chose to associate with the dead - Deliah; so his head was defiled. It had to be shaved. Delilah had just the right barber. The Philistines put out his eyes, brought him to Gaza (which ironically means "strong") and bound him with fetters of brass. Brass is from a Hebrew word that means "from the red color of the throat of a serpent when hissing". Satan was certainly hissing when he delivered Samson over to the Philistines. His eyes had been used to get him in trouble in the past. He admired way too many women with them. His eyes won't be troubling him anymore. He was made to grind in the prison house.
However, God is a redeeming God. While Samson was grinding in the prison house, his hair began to grow. The Philistines were celebrating their fish god, Dagon for delivering them from their enemies, mainly Samson. After a few too many drinks, they called to have Samson brought out so they could taunt him. A much humbler Samson came out and called out to God to give him strength to avenge him of his eyes. He stood in the entrance of the building and took the pillars and brought the roof down. He became the sacrifice, that his vow would be fulfilled. He killed more Philistines in his death than in his life.
Samson is always a sad story to me because although Samson was dedicated to God, he never seemed to accept it or make it a goal. Instead of embracing his calling to start delivering the Israelites from the Philistines, he was motivated by revenge and rage. And instead of wanting a relationship with God, he had a lot of relationships with harlots. It does prove that the gifts of God are without repentence. (Ro. 11:29) They don't depend on our devotion or anything we do.
I pray that we use our gifts for God with great joy and devotion. May we enjoy our jouney with God and all the ways he choses to use us. Purify our hearts O God!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thurs. Devo - Flirting with Evil

Read Judges 16: 1-20
Samson and Delilah; who has not heard of the lovers? "Delilah" means the vine of grapes. (Aren't grapes one of the things Samson was not suppose to eat?) She was bribed by the Philistine lords with 1100 pieces of silver to find out the secret of his strength.
First he told her that if she bound him with 7 new cords that hadn't been dried. (A Nazarite can't eat new grapes or dried.) But that didn't work. Next he told her to bind him with new ropes that have never been occupied. (A Nazarite can't eat anything made of the vine tree, from the inside of the unripe or new grape to the outside peel.) He broke these off like threads. She's still whinning... so he tells her to weave the 7 locks of his head with the web. (If a Nazarite accidentally come into contact with a dead person he has to shave his head on the 7th day.) Is Samson trying to give her subtle hints? When this didn't work she resorted to pure female manipulation: "How can you say you love me...when you haven't told me where your great strength lies?" She nagged him and nagged him till she finally wore him down and he told her. He could have told her about breaking any law of the Nazarite, but he chose the one about the hair. In the Nazarite laws (Numbers 6:7) it says, "that the consecration of his God is upon his head." Christ is our head and we are the body.
When Delilah saw that Samson had told her all his heart, she sent for the Philistine lords. She made him sleep in her lap and had his hair cut. They tormented him and watched as his strength left him. I wonder what that looked like? "Tormented" in the Hebrew means "to brow-beat". So they spoke curses over him. Words are powerful. Then she woke him up telling him that the Philistines were upon him. He got up like always and didn't even realize his strength had left him. He had gotten so caloused to the presence of God that he didn't recognize he had lost it.
Samson flirted with sin till he finally got swept away by it. How many times do we stay in situations where we are being whittled down by the world or Satan and just continue to stay there thinking we can be strong. Samson's pride blinded him to Delilah's deception. They say, "Sin will take you further than you meant to go, keep you longer than you meant to stay, and cost you more than you meant to pay." How true. In the end his discernment was so weak, he didn't even know God had left him.
Lord, show us where we are tempting evil. Give us a glimpse of your holiness to bring us back to the light. Let us be quick to turn and repent. We love you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wed Devo - From Death to Life

Wed. Devo
Read Judges 13
"And the children of Israel did evil AGAIN in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines 40 years....not again!?! So there is this man named Manoah and his wife who is barren. Ever notice how so many of the women in the Bible are barren women? Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, (the wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). Then Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist in the New Testament. It is like being barren is a prerequisite for having a son that will be used greatly of God. As I meditated on this I realized that we are all barren before God visits us with His spirit and gives us life. Before that we cannot reproduce life. Once He is in us we give forth life everywhere we go.
This angel appears to Manoah's wife (apparently her name was not of significance) and told her she was going to conceive a son who was going to be a Nazarite from birth. He would deliver Israel from the Philistines. A Nazarite is a person separated unto the Lord. He can't drink wine or liquor, or eat grapes, raisins or anything unclean. He can't cut his hair, or come near a dead body, even if it is someone in his immediate family. He is to be holy to the Lord. (Num. 6)
Manoah missed the meeting with the angel so he asked for another one because he had some questions. God's angel came back and answered all his questions. Then, Manoah offered a sacrifice and the angel consumed it with fire and disappeared in the fire. How is that for the dramatic!
His wife got pregnant and conceived Sampson which means "a ray of sunlight". Then in the last verse it says , "And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. "Zorah" means a stinging hornet and Eshtaol means "intreaty". So it looks to me like God is saying that in between the times of his judgement (the stinging hornet) and their calling out (intreating) to Him that God began to move in their midst.
Lord, you saw us in our barrenness and put life in us through Your son, Jesus. We are so grateful. Let all that we do birth life to those around us. Let us be a ray of sunlight in someone's life today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Little with God is a Lot!

Tues. Devo -
Read Judges 7:1-25
In verse 1 they camped by the well of Harod. Interestingly "Harod" means fountain of trembling. It was here that God told Gideon to tell the ones that were afraid to go home. Out of 32,000; there remained 10,000. God then told Gideon to come down to the water and He was going to weed out more. God only wanted 300 which is probably just enough to encircle the Midianite camp. God knew none of these men were going to have to fight, but they were going to need great courage to trust God to do what God was going to ask them to do.
I can't imagine what was going through Gideon's mind at this time... 300 against millions!!! How was God going to do this? God was so merciful to Gideon and knew he needed another "word" to encourage him. He told him to go down to the Midianite camp that night and just listen to what was being said. He did and heard a man talking about a dream he had dreamed. A piece of bread tumbled down into the Midianite camp and destroyed the camp. They knew that this was Gideon, to whom God was going to give victory over them. That piece of bread was the word of God, the bread of life that God sent down to defeat them.
Gideon went back, full of God's strength and called an attack. He gave each man a trumpet, a clay jar and a torch to go inside the clay jar. They surrounded the camp. Gideon blew his trumpet which probably woke them up then the rest of them blew there trumpets. What a sound!!! I bet they were scared spitless! Then they heard a huge bang as all the men broke their pitchers then a huge blast of light. I bet they thought aliens had landed. They jumped out of bed and ran around killing themselves. Gideon's army pursued them and the rest of the soldiers that were not with Gideon chased them and killed them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday's Devotion - Repentence Precedes Deliverance

Read Judges 6:27-40
In verse 26 God told Gideon to build an altar out of the wood from the grove he was to cut down. This grove was the altar of Baal and Ashtorah. He did it at night because he was afraid of his own people. When they woke up the next day and found out who did it his father is the one who stepped up to defend him. He doesn't sound like a "might warrior" yet... still a little timid, afraid of man.
In order for God to be able to deliver the Israelites He dealt with their sin first. Repentence precedes deliverance. Their sin was following other gods. Once Gideon cut them down by the root, God was able to do His part, which is the miraculous part. And Gideon emerged a different man.
It verse 34 we find a different Gideon because the "Spirit of the Lord" came upon him. He blew a trumpet (he made a sound with his mouth) and Abiezer was "gathered after him." "Ezer" is a word that describes the Holy Spirit. It means our "helper". "Gathered after him" means the Holy Spirit cried out for him. He had his back. Gideon called for men out of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. That is he took with him Asher: joy and righteousness. Zebulun: his intimacy with God. Naphtali: his warrior spirit.
Then he asks for confirmation. He always gets a bum wrap for his fleeces but I don't think we have understood this correctly. God never got mad at him for asking for a sign. God is patient and honors his request. I think it is always wise to seek counsel, confirmation, etc. when God has given us an assignment. Gideon's decision was going to affect many lives and he wanted to be sure before he leaped. Proverbs has a lot to say about seeking counsel. Gideon didn't go to his friends for counsel, he went straight to God for his answer. God loves this. It is all about the relationship and Gideon was developing an intimate trust in God.
If you can't seem to defeat your enemy, maybe you left out the stage where you cut down your idols and repented. Or maybe you need to gather the strength of the Holy Spirit around you. Have you girded yourself with joy, intimacy with God, and the confidence to use the Word of God? If you have done all this and you are still afraid, ask God for a sign. He is with you and will hear your request and answer you.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday's devo - God's Economy

Friday Devo -
Read Judges 6:11-26
The Midianite armies came in like locusts, killing all their livestock, eating or burning all their fields so that they were reduced to poverty. Gideon is hiding oout in the winepress threshing his grain, which is not where you would normally thresh grain. A winepress is underground and hidden. This is where the angel finds him. The angel calls him a "mighty man of valor". I'm sure Gideon did not feel like he was a mighty man in any way. He was a hungry, scared, lonely man with little hope for his people or his family. God always sees us as what He can do through us; not as we are in ourselves. He is mighty and can be mighty through us. All we have to do is obey. Gideon's response is so typical: "Who am I? My family is poor and I am the least of my family." Notice how God loves to choose the least likely. Remember when Samuel was looking for the next king of Israel and God sent him to Jesse who brought out his 7 sons. God told Samuel not to look on the outward appearance because God looks at the heart. After all 7 had passed in front of Samuel and God said "no" to each of them. He asked Jesse if he had another son. Jesse remembered David, the youngest who was out tending the sheep. Samuel told him to go get him. When he saw him God said, "Arise, anoint him for this is he."
Look at who Jesus chose for his disciples: most of them were the lowest of society. This should encourage us. If we think we are worthy, we need to humble ourselves. If we think we are unworthy, we need to put our confidence in God and GO.
In vs. 19 when Gideon perceived that he was talking to the angel of God he went and killed a goat and made unleavened bread and prepared broth. A big sacrifice seeing they were starving. Later in vs. 25 he kills a young bull. God always asks of us what we think we need. They needed food. But most of all, they needed to be free from their enemy. A sacrifice needs to cost us something for it to be a sacrifice. God was going to give them back much more than they lost.
What do you need God to do for you? What is he asking from you? Our church is going through a building program in the midst of financial disaster in our country. I love it!!! Whose economy are we a part of? I am in God's economy and have invested in His savings program. He never, never, never runs out of money, oil, land, food, gas, or anything. He is my banker and I will not let the world's economy rob me of my peace.
Lord, give us your vision of our future. Let us see "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday's devotion - Vicious Cycles

Read Judges 6:1-10
The children of Israel are repeating their vicious cycle: they turn away from God, God sends enemies and hard times to drive them back to him, they call out to God, he delivers them. What a tragedy.
Why can't they just stay close to him? Why do they have to turn to Baal and Ashtorah all the time? You would think they would learn their lesson.
This sounds a little too familiar. I can find myself sidetracked by my schedule, worries about my kids, you know: those little foxes. Song of Solomon talks about the little foxes that spoil the vines. I don't have to fight turning away from God completly, I just have to fight the distractions like the temptation to worry or get stressed. Jesus said, Don't worry about tommorrow because tomorrow has enough to worry about. There has to be a road we can travel on that is above all this. There is! It's called "walking in the spirit and not fulfilling the desires of the flesh". Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. When we get busy in our routine of stress: look up! There is a higher road. Jump up on it. It is the road of peace, joy, and fulfillment. Jesus walks on that road and is a constant companion.
Lord, grow us beyond the cycle of the Israelites. We want to consistently walk with you, putting all our cares on you because you care for us. Make us like little children in our faith, but men in our strength. We love you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wed. Devo - We win!!!

Read Judges 5: 19-31
We have a lot to cover today! This battle is fought where the very last battle: the Battle of Armaggedon will be fought. Let's look at the similarities:
1. vs. 19 - the enemy gets to take no spoils. In the last battle the enemy will be thrown into the lake of fire. Rev. 20:9-10.
2. vs. 20 - this is a spiritual battle that will be fought in the heavens and also in the earth. In the last battle fire will come down from heaven and devour the enemy. Rev. 20:9.
3. vs. 24-27 - WE WIN!!! Jael acts as God. She nails Sisera's temple to the ground. "Temple" means "evil". She puts to death evil and sin with a nail. Rev. 20: 14 says that Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.
Back to our story: Sisera's mother is waiting for him to come home. When he doesn't, she decides it is because he is busy dividing the spoil among his men. She dreams of when he will walk in and adorn her with beautiful robes. She is deceived. The devil is the biggest deceiver. He promises us things he never intends to deliver. He has no friends and is loyal to noone, even his own demons. He will tempt you to hold on to a dream that he never intends to fulfill. God is the exact opposite of that. He promises something then moves heaven and earth to fulfill it. What has God promised you that has not come to pass? Hold on to it. Find a promise in God's Word and hold on to it.
I love the last verse. "May all those who love you rise like the sun in all its. power." Lord, help us to shine the fullness of your light today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tues. devotion - When the Roll is Called...

Read Judges 5:13-18
So down they came to fight- the few against the many; the poor against the rich; the people against warriors. Roll call: Ephraim, Benjamin, Naptali, Zebulun, Issachar. All here. Where is Rueben, Gilead, Dan, and Asher.
Didn't God tell them that when there was a battle against any tribe - they were all suppose to come help. So why didn't they come? Well, it seem there was great indecision in the tribe Rueben. They just couldn't all agree so they sat home and life went on as usual. I guess they would catch it on the 6:00 news. Gilead didn't want to cross the Jordan. Dan was too busy watching the beautiful sunset over the ocean - safe in the harbors.
So who are we when it comes time to fight, go on a mission trip, help the poor, work in Toys or Tots, go speak a kind word to someone who is friendless or alone. Are we like Rueben who just couldn't decide whether he wanted to or not. "Surely someone else will do it. They don't need me." May be so, but you need them, and they do need you. If you leave decisions up to how you feel - you will probably choose to default. "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!!!" Or are we like Gilead who let his obstacles keep him from getting there. It is not the easy path to follow Jesus, but it is always the most fulfilling. Or, what about Dan? Is your life so comfortable and planned that you don't want to disturb it? If you don't - God will and you won't like it. The Christian life is meant to be an adventure! You don't want to miss it. Or, are we like Zebulun and Naptali who risked their lives on the heights of the battlefield. They laid it all down for Jesus and won.
Lord, we want to lay it all down for you. We want to risk it all for you. Put your spirit in us so that we will march in your power and bring down strongholds and defeat your enemies! Thank you, God for your unfailing kindness to us.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday's Devo. Purified Water

Read Judges 5:10-12
We are reading the song of Deborah and Barak after their great defeat. The song is calling out to the rich: "the ones who ride on white donkeys" and to the poor: "the ones that walk along the road." It is begging them to listen to the village musicians as they sing songs about what God had done for them in the past. They knew that if the people were reminded of all the wonderful ways God had delivered them from in the past, they would have courage to march as an army down to the city gates to fight for their freedom.
In verse 12 the spirit of God is telling Deborah to wake up and proclaim victory and Barak to wake up and lead the army in victory. In the OT they didn't have a literal Bible to read, but they had songs that had been written and recorded so they could recall what God had done in the past. These songs were their Bible. The minstrels were the singing prophets of their day. It is the same today. Our modern day minstrels are singing their prophesies. The prophets of the world are singing about love, broken hearts, disappointment and bitterness. If you listen to them you will learn to close your heart to love, or open it to the wrong kind of love. Either way you lose. If you listen to God's musicians you will be uplifted in your spirit and be drawn near to the heart of God. In our story, the musicians were found at the watering holes. Heb. 10:22 says, "Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean and our bodies have been washed with pure water." Eph. 5:26 tells us that this water is the Word of God.
What are you listening to? Is it giving you power in your spirit to walk with God or is it feeding your flesh to want what the world has. God wants you to walk in freedom and love but you have to choose Him.
I pray that we would choose You today. Change our desires to be your desires. Change our hearts to hunger after the pure water of your Word. Walk with us and cause us to hear your voice. We are thirsty for You.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday's devo - War in the gates

Read Judges 5:6-9
"in the days of Shamgar"... Shamgar was a judge before Deborah who had killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad and delivered Israel. His name means: the desolate dragged away. There must have been a lot of fear and unsafety because the people didn't walk on the main highways but took the winding side roads when they traveled. There had ceased to be a real leader till God raised up Deborah. God's people had chosen to follow "new gods" as if God was not enough. When they did this they had war in their gates. Deborah cries out asking if there is a sword or shield in the 40,000 Israelites. She then praises the leaders that rose up to fight.
So what does that mean to us. We don't live in the days of Shamgar... or do we? Do we not see the desolate resorting to drugs, sex, gambling, suicide, divorce, etc. Have we hidden the Jesus in us out of fear and intimidation and not taken him on the main highways of our lives? Have we chosen new gods of fame, fortune, idols, music, sports. When we do we have war in our gates. Our gates are our eyes, ears, mouth. What we allow in our "gates" guide our decisions. If we feast on Miley Sirus we will porbably not make the right decisions about how to dress, walk or talk. Do you have your shield and your sword. The Bible says our shield is our faith. What has our heart? Our sword is the Word of God. It is powerful if you use it.
But, praise God the leaders rose up to fight! That can be the Jesus in YOU! Find just one verse in the Bible that speaks to your situation and use it. You will be amazed at what power God will give you through it. I have a good one for you: Phillipians 4:8 "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. " God bless your walk today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Read Judges 5:1-5
Last night we talked about how Deborah, Barak, and Jael defeated Sisera. This chapter is the song Deborah and Barak sang about the battle. In vs. 2 they are praising God for the victory he gave them and for the people who freely offered themselves. Barak couldn't fight this battle without the people who volunteered to risk their lives and fight. We are in a battle for righteousness in a very evil world. It is so important that we stand together like we did last night, praying for each other and standing with each other when we are going through a hard time. Most of the time no one notices what we do, but it doesn't mean it is not important.
At church we are also going through a fast. I encourage you, if you have not gotten in on the fast yet, that you jump in. Pray about what God wants you to offer Him. Maybe it's your music he wants you to put down. Maybe it's food. Whatever it is do it willingly. That was what a free offering was all about in the OT. They were required to bring certain burnt offerings and sin offerings at certain times each year, but the free-will offering was not required. They gave it when they wanted to.
Verse 4 tells how 10,000 men on horses defeated many more men and 900 iron chariots. God sent earthquakes and rain. Iron chariots don't roll very well in the mud. It would be like driving a car and blowing 3 tires. They were swerving all over the place and very frustrated. Verse 5 says that the mountains melted. So the ice on top of the mountain melted and the water came flowing down like a river. Romans 1:18 says that Gods shows his anger from heaven against wicked people. He definitely did that a lot in the OT. Rain, thunder, hail, lightning, floods; all to show his power. This is a great illustration of how God will go to great lengths to help us win our battles over sin, strongholds, and our enemy.
What is your part in God's army? What is the battle you are in right now? What does God want you to do next? Is there anything you would want to freely give him? These are all questions God can help you answer.
I pray that God will be so near to you that you can feel his arms around you. May you be able to climb up in his lap and give him all your pains and weights. God, I ask that you speak clearly to each one of us and show us the plan you have for us and what it is that we can do next. Help us know how to fight our battles. Be our leader and strong tower. We love you with all our hearts.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jael's moment in history - Wed. devo

Read Judges 4
Once again Israel has sinned and is turned over to an enemy, the king of Hazor who had been oppressing Israel for 20 years. His name is Jabin which means intelligent, discerning, understanding. His army commander is Sisera who had 900 iron chariots. Pretty impressive being that Israel had none.
Deborah was a prophetess and a judge in Israel at the time for Israel. She lived in Ephraim. Her name means "a bee." She called Barak out to lead 10,000 men from Naptali and Zebulun. Barak means "a bright flashing sword. Naptali and Zebulun mean "abiding" and "wrestling".
Deborah is going to draw Sisera to the river Kishon which means "to set a trap". And deliver them to his hands. Barak agrees to go and Deborah tells him that this battle is not for his honor because God is going to sell Siseral into the hand of a woman. How humiliating for Sisera - to die at the hand of a woman.
Judges 4 11-24
Heber - a sorcerer from the descendant of Cain, had severed himself from his own people and was living out by himself. He showed Sisera where Barak was so Sisera went after him. Deborah told Barak that this was the day God had delivered Sisera into your hands so Barak went down and fought. God troubled, vexed, disturbed, Sisera and all his chariots so that Sisera got off his chariot and ran. Barak chased and killed all of Sisera's men. But Sisera went to the tent of Jael. Her people were on his side. Jael means "to be valuable and useful". She covered him with a mat to hide him and gave him some milk. He told her to stand watch while he slept. She took a tent nail and a hammer and drove the nail into his temples all the way to the ground.
When Barak came looking for Sisera, she showed him. (Read the last vs. 24) We keep fighting our enemies till they are gone.
Our enemy is alway intelligent. We fight him with the sword of the spirit which comes from abiding and wrestling with God. Deborah stands for a member of the body. We are part of an intricate society called the Body of Christ where everyone knows their part. Deborah knew her part and did it. Everything happened just as God had told her it would. Barak was just a fighter, doing his part. He didn't quit when he found out a girl was going to get the glory for killing Sisera. He did what his part was. He fought the battle. Jael was on the enemies's side. She fought from there. She was strategically to do her job. God has people in the enemies' camp. There were Christian soldiers in the Nazi prison camps that helped the Jews. God has his people everywhere. There are also Satan's people planted in Christian churches, organizations, etc. Jesus said not to try to weed them out but to wait till the harvest and let God separated the wheat from the tares.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cities of Refuge Tues Devo

Read Joshua 20
Cities of refuge. This is one of my favorite things to study. I have been interested in them for years and still don't fully understand their significance, but here is a little I have come to understand.
These cities were for people who accidentally killed someone and have no eye-witness. They can run to these cities and be safe until they stand before the congregation for judgment and until death of the high priest. Then they are released and free to go. What a great picture of what Jesus did for us.
Until Jesus came into our lives we were murderers, liars, sinners and didn't even know our sin. God kept us in his city of refuge until we came to the truth. When we realized the High Priest had died for us and we came to the realization that we were sinners; we subjected ourselves to his judgement and we were set free. Now we can walk this earth free from the "avenger of blood" that once had the right to judge us. Jesus took all the penalty of our sin and did away with it on the cross.
Want to go deeper? I asked God one night before I drifted off to sleep, "Where did the people in the OT go after they died?" I woke up to this in my head: "cities of refuge." I remembered my question the night before and realized God was answering my question. I got up and started studying again about the cities of refuge. I realized that when God-fearing people in the OT died, God had "cities of refuge" under the earth where they stayed until "the death of the High Priest". When Jesus died and was buried he went and preached to them and delivered them out of bondage. He "led captivity captive." After Jesus came back to walk the earth, many other people who had died came back and walked the streets of Jerusalem also. Jesus was the first fruit to rise from the earth, but he brought many with him.
Lord, thank you that you still have "cities of refuge" where we can go and hide away until we repent and apply your blood to our sin. Help us not to stay in these cities long but appropriate your death and go free. Help us to lead many out of bondage into freedom.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Can the Jebs

Joshua 15-19 is all about how the tribes divided the land and went in and settled in their portion alloted them. Sadly, many tribes didn't drive out all the Jebusites, or the Canaanites or whoever was there. It reads that they still remain there today because it was their choice to become weary of fighting and just put up with them. Sometimes they made them their slaves which meant they still had to feed them and take care of them. I wonder what the Jebusites and Canaanites are in my life. "Canaanites" means to humiliate or make you bend your knee. They sound like accusers, which sounds just like the "accuser of the brethren".
Rev. 12:10 says that "the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." The devil is always looking for an ear he can speak into. He says things like, "you can't expect God to use you after what you did." "Surely you don't think God told you to say that, remember how you got mad and lost your temper?" "You're not good enough." ETC. We are suppose to "cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2Co 10:5.
The Canaanites had iron chariots! Isn't it interesting how these intimidating thoughts come in droves. One thought leads to another. "Chariot" in the Hebrew means a team; the upper millstone. Everytime the word "millstone" is mentioned in the Bible it is being cast somewhere: either down, into the sea, or around someone's neck and then cast into the sea. So that is what we need to do to millstones the devil tries to put on us. They need to be cast down.
Another enemy left in the land were the Jebusites. In the Hebrew they meant "to trample; tread down under foot; be poluted". God hates mixture and that is what the enemies did to the Israelites. They wanted them to add their gods in with THE God. When we start adding in other gods we become poluted. James 1:27 says that 'Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Lord, show us what we have allowed in our life that keeps us from being pure and holy. What have we allowed into our lives that has polluted our soul and intimidated our walk. Help us identify it and cast it out. Be our strong tower today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Don't give up! Fri Devo

Read Joshua 14
When we had our first child, a boy, we were trying to select the right name for him. One of my many suggestions was "Caleb". Dave said, "No, we have to name him 'Joshua' and the next one 'Caleb'; which is exactly what we did. Reading this chapter makes me so glad we did.
In verse 6, Caleb and his delegation came to Joshua to remind him of the land God had promise him and about what Caleb had done for God. When they first arrived at the Promise land, Moses had sent out 12 spies, one from each tribe. Only Joshua and Caleb came back saying the land was good and they should take it. The rest of the men had only seen the giants in the land so they frightened the people from entering and they had to wait 40 more years as punishment. Caleb is now wanting the land Moses had promised him because he had "wholeheartedly followed the Lord." He even reminded Joshua that even though he was now 85 years old, he was still as strong as he was when he was 45.
How sweet of God! Caleb was ready and willing to take his land at the time God had planned for them to take it, but because his people lacked faith, he suffered and had to wait. I see this happen in families where one person is ready to go on with God and the other is not "there yet" and they have to wait. But God restores back to the one who has to be patient by giving him the same strength, the same promise, and the same result at the later date. There are things that God has promised all of us that we have not seen happen even though we have "wholeheartedly served the Lord". Don't give up. There will be another chance and everyone who is suppose to be with you will be ready. That is a whole lot better that doing it sooner and alone. God is so concerned about people. He has many children that he has entrusted to our care. They may seem to "hold us back", but God makes allowances for that and rewards us for having to wait. "They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will rise up with wings as eagles, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint."
Lord, help us to realize that You are so in love with all your children. You patiently wait for me, help me to patiently wait for others.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday's devotion Mind Blowing

Read Joshua 11
More battles...... A few things stood out to me. Hazor was a king who rounded up other kings and their people to fight Israel. Hazor means "intelligent". Human intelligence is a huge enemy to God's ways because his ways are higher than ours. Ro. 8:7 says that the carnal mind is always hostile toward God. It never did obey God's laws and it never will. God told Joshua to utterly kill all of them with the edge of the sword, even their horses. I quess that is what we have to do with our own reasoning. Kill it with the sword God has given us -- the Bible. God wants to put our hope totally in Him, no matter what things look like on the surface. The Word of God is a 2-edged sword that divides soul and spirit, bone and marrow, and thoughts and intentions. It will renew your mind and give you the mind of Jesus.
Joshua did all that God told him to do. Vs. 19 says that there was not a city that made peace with them except for the Hivites that had tricked them into making a covenant with them. The next verse said that God hardened the hearts of their enemies so that when they attacked them they would be defeated. James tells us in the NT that trials come to make us strong. God sends trials our way so that we can get mad enough to fight the enemy that is dwelling in our land and kick him out. Trials act as a mirror into our soul. You never know what is in a bottle until you turn it upside down and squeeze it. That is what God does to us. He turns our worlds upside down and puts the squeeze on us. Whatever we have fed on will come out. If you feed on the Word, it will come out of your mouth and save you.
Joshua was relentless. He went after the strongholds in the mountains. They are more strategically located so that they can see the enemy approaching and be ready for it. But Joshua had God on his side. It doesn't matter if you are battling something that has been in your family for a long time and has become a "high place"; God can defeat it through you.
The last verse says, "And the land rested from war." AHHHHH! Wouldn't you like to enter into God's rest? We can, after we have taken our land.
Lord, show us the enemies in our land and show us how to use our sword, the Word of God, to defeat every enemy. Thank you Jesus.